We go to school to learn. Well at least adults, who go back to school go motivated to learn. The school we attend is designed to teach us specific skills, perhaps engineering or computer science. A thinking person would not go to an engineering school to learn to be a chef. Yet this is often precisely what we do when we go to church. We go to the wrong school because we have not clearly understood what Jesus intends to teach. My observation is that people attend for various reasons; habit, religious duty, guilt, self-improvement, social reasons or even a search for God. But why should we become a part of the church. I mean really I like to watch football and I sacrifice a lot of games and a lot of leisurely sleep on Sunday mornings and so do you in order to come to church. So, whats the goal? Why do it?
God wants to teach us how to love, not merely how to conform to religious behavior or to clean us up and the church is instrumental in that endeavor. Today, we will start with a negative example, observing some people who missed what God was intending to teach, and then describe the faculty of Gods School of Love.
How could they have missed Gods heart so badly?
The Pharisees goal was laudable. They wanted to obey the Law so as to please God enough to avoid punishment. You may recall Israels history has a Babylonian exile in it. Israel had disobeyed God, broken their covenant with Him, and ignored or killed the prophets He sent to correct them. So, in His exasperation (Habakkuk) He spoke to them through their Babylonian conquerors.
In their attempt to make the law applicable and doable they watered it down to mere external behavior. They sought to limit Gods Law so that they could live up to it, but in the attempt they lost the spirit of the law.
They made two fundamental mistakes. 1)They conformed to an external standard which was not what God was attempting to teach them, and 2) they left their internal world unexamined. So the real intent of the Law, love God & love people, never touched their hearts.
First clean the inside
Repent of what?
Jesus used the parable of the Good Samaritan to expose this flaw in Phariseeism. (Luke 10:25-37) The lawyers question, Who is my neighbor? = limit vs. Jesus statement, be a neighbor = love.
The Pharisees would not follow Jesus. But, every person who would follow Jesus must make a fundamental break with their commitment to self-preservation at all costs. Jesus said take up your cross, a means of death, and follow Me.
Jesus call to sacrificially love is diametrically opposed to my guiding principle of pain avoidance. (He has called me to be a living sacrifice, but living sacrifices often crawl off the altar.)
If we fail to repent of Pain Avoidance At All Costs as our guiding principle we are missing Jesus call to learn to love and we settling for sin management and religious behavior conformity.
What instructors has He provided to guide me into His way of living?
1) My conscience
2) The Holy Spirit
3) The Bible (Hebrews 4:12, 13)
4) The Body of Christ The Local Church
We human beings are bent toward self protection. Because of this we are self focused and fail to be otherly. We fail to love because we are thinking mostly about ourselves. Becoming a Christian, a Christ follower, means repenting of our selfish orientation, and inviting or at least allowing God to teach us the way of love.
Will you allow Gods School of Love to instruct you? Will you come to church with a soft heart allowing God to look deep into your behavior and motivation?
1) Which teacher has been speaking to you this week?
2) Which one(s) are you attempting to ignore?
3) How is God currently stretching your capacity to love?